In our first look at our most viewed news stories of 2016, the emphasis was on injuries and WWE signings.
But that was 6-10, and we find ourselves ready to present the top five most viewed stories on WrestlingObserver.com of 2016 featuring two backstage scuffles and talents either on their way out of WWE or blocked from coming back in.
5 -- Chris Jericho & Sin Cara bus altercation (November)
The List of Jericho got a name written in bold in November as Sin Cara (Jorge Arias) and Y2J got into an altercation on a bus in England during WWE’s fall overseas tour of the United Kingdom. It seems Arias was annoying some of his fellow wrestlers and when Jericho confronted him in an effort to get him to quit it, things got ugly. A finger bite later, the two were separated and Arias was kicked off the bus, left to his own devices.
Both men had quite a year with backstage frays, so this was the icing on the 2016 cake. You’ll be hearing more about the Jericho Fighting Championship in a few paragraphs.
4 -- WWE removes Jerry Lawler & Lita from on-screen duties (December)
For many, the voice of “The King” was part of their wrestling upbringing, for better or worse. Along with Jim Ross, the dirty old man who never thought he was old was synonymous with the experience of watching Raw and most PPVs.
In recent years, Lawler had been moved around from property to property and in December, he finally ran out of real estate. Both he and fellow WWE Hall of Famer Lita (Amy Dumas) were removed from the pre-show panels, signifying the end of an era in the case of the former.
While they did both ink Legends deals, Lawler and Dumas now become the equivalent of retired hosts in the Westworld warehouse, waiting to be programmed again to have usefulness for the big show.
3 -- Kurt Angle not coming back to WWE (June)
Arguably the biggest WWE alumni member still on the outside looking in, Angle will remain in that role for the foreseeable future, according to a WWE official our Dave Meltzer spoke with in June following a radio interview Angle did.
Since then, the wrestling content world has changed incredibly. More and more emphasis is being put on name value as opposed to pre-conceived notions about what a pro wrestler is in 2016. However, Angle’s checkered past and battles with his demons have cast doubts about whether Vince McMahon is willing to sign off on bringing him back.
Then again, a 50-year-old Goldberg just decimated Brock Lesnar in a few minutes at Survivor Series. As always, card subject to change.
2 -- The NJPW Four head to WWE (January)
To give you an idea of how big this story was, the views for this post were nearly double that of #3 on this list.
It’s cliche to say “the year started off with a bang” but in this case, that would be fitting as this was a massive story to kick off 2016. When two of the world’s best and one of the most notable American teams in NJPW decided to turn their gaze to Titanland, it raised eyebrows and set the course for a wild news year with lots of moves by lots of top talent partially driven by content needs.
Since then, we saw AJ Styles debut at the Royal Rumble, lose to Chris Jericho at Wrestlemania, have a tremendous feud with John Cena, and go on a run that sees him finish off the year as WWE Champion. Nakamura is the NXT Champion and is still working in front of a few hundred people a night at armories in Florida instead of thousands on the road for the big club.
And then, there’s Anderson and Gallows. Let’s just move on.
This was one of those stories that we knew would be huge, but we didn’t expect this to be the biggest post of not just the year but of all-time for our website.
Pretty simply, Jericho was curious as to what happened in the finish of Lesnar’s memorable match with Randy Orton that left Orton in a pool of his own blood and viewers with mouths agape. Lesnar walked backstage, heard something he didn’t like, and it...was...on.
Jericho has never backed down from a challenge (Goldberg, anyone?) and apparently, Lesnar wasn’t going to be the first. You know this was wild and crazy when Vincent Kennedy McMahon gets involved in breaking it up.
Backstage fights will always generate interest, but one with a former UFC champion and a fiery Canadian who has hockey in his blood? That’s gold, Jerry. Gold.
Next up on our year-end countdown of lists: the most-viewed wrestling events of 2016.